Take a good look because Deerfoot Mall won’t look like this for long
When Deerfoot Mall was built in 1981, indoor shopping malls were still all the rage. In 2014, Calgary’s retail scene needs some variety. At least that is what Shape Properties thinks. The development company is transforming the 80-acre property into an indoor/outdoor hybrid mall.
It’s knocking down almost all of the existing structure and building it back up into a mostly open-air network of street front-style shopping with stores, restaurants, offices and maybe even residential connected by wide, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks. All of that will stretch into the surrounding area that is currently hay fields.
“When we are finished, you won’t be able to recognize it,” says Darren Kwiatkowski, executive vice president of Shape Properties.
Two-thirds of the mall will be outdoors, but there will be places to go inside and socialize .
“It’s a little bit like the ski lodge at a ski hill. You are outside shopping, but you can come inside for coffee, to warm-up or sit by the fireplace and relax,” says Kwiatkowski.
The idea is to create a shopping environment for the modern consumer that entices them away from their online shopping or at least makes sure there is room for both.
“When video came out people thought movie theatres would die out. They didn’t. Instead, they got better with stadium seating and more food concepts. That’s where we see bricks and mortar shopping going – stepping up its game,” says Kwiatkowski. “Deerfoot Mall will be part of the social centre of the community, where you go to shop, meet some people and hang out.”
Shape Properties is also hoping to appeal to large retailers looking to get into Calgary’s hot economy, but wanting an alternative to the enclosed mall or the big box power centre.
“There are a lot of really good retailers that have evolved over the years in content, service, display, architectures and how they lay out their goods, but the shopping mall is still the same. It hasn’t evolved with the retailer,” says Kwiatkowski.
Deerfoot Mall is a rare opportunity to redevelop a huge section of urban land into retail space.
“Calgary is very tightly planned from a land use perspective. Neighbourhoods are built with a grocery store and a bank at the centre. Beyond that there is master planned residential. It is hard to go back once the population has grown and develop bigger centres,” explains Kwiatowski.
The mall’s location on a major roadway is also a huge plus. Tens of thousands of people commute by it daily and it is right next to the airport.
As for Deerfoot Mall retailers, Wal-mart will stay. So will Sport Chek. Cabela‘s has recently announced that it will also be an anchor tenant. The hunting, fishing and outdoor gear store will open its 70,000 square-foot space in fall 2015. The rest are yet to be announced.
Major construction on the site is expected to take place through next summer.